In the struggle to protect endangered species (all great ape species are endangered), it is often missed that human communities are often the ones who likewise suffer. With difficulties obtaining resources, especially with regulations around protected areas, and with the looming threats of wildlife attacks and/or disruption of agriculture, human communities are faced with mounting barriers. But in these complicated cross-hairs lies a solution: In Uganda, the Jane Goodall Institute has been working with local communities to develop community funds which protect local people from losses due to wildlife conflict, helping ensure a better future for all.
Budongo and Bugoma Central Forest Reserves are some of the largest in Uganda, and home to a significant population of chimpanzees along with hundreds of other species. Uganda is also home to 42 million people. The rapid growth of human populations places pressure on resources, posing an existential threat to the ecosystem.
Local people enter these forests for water and daily supply of wood to use for cooking, increasing contact between people and wildlife. In addition, competition for dwindling resources has exacerbated human-wildlife conflict, with incidences of crop destruction, sometimes fatal chimpanzee attacks on humans, and retaliatory attacks on chimpanzees by humans. Both wildlife and humans find themselves in the way of the other, trapped in a situation they must constantly balance.
With funds from Uganda Biodiversity Fund (UBF), JGI implemented a project to build community resilience to losses from wildlife incursions through the establishment of a community owned fund. Through the fund, the community can save part of their earnings for future compensations for damages caused by wildlife. This fund enables them to create a safety-net and diminish human-wildlife conflict. This extraordinary fund grew by 3.5 times in one year from 5 million Uganda shillings to 20 million, equivalent to a growth from about $1,500 to over $5,500.
“I thank JGI/UBF for this good idea and initiative. I can now pay school fees for my children, and use part of the income to meet other domestic needs. I think this project needs to be spread throughout the country. It has taught me and the community how to coexist with nature.” – Beneficiary of the JGI Human-Wildlife Fund, Michael
Across the chimpanzee range, JGI has implemented “Tacare” or community-centered conservation. This approach represents a “package” of best practices in community-centered conservation which we have adapted and perfected over the last 25 years across our programmatic sites in Africa. Through the integration of proven science and grounding of IUCN’s Conservation Planning Specialist Group, predictive modeling of chimpanzee population viability, Open Standards, and collaboration with key partners to develop effective behavior change campaigns, public awareness and education initiatives, these efforts represent the hopeful possibilities of what can happen when you people at the center of conservation.
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The Jane Goodall Institute is a global community conservation organization that advances the vision and work of Dr. Jane Goodall. By protecting chimpanzees and inspiring people to conserve the natural world we all share, we improve the lives of people, animals and the environment. Everything is connected—everyone can make a difference.